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Monday, July 30, 2007

A correction

The other day, I made the comment that data mining, in and of itself, isn't illegal. It may be that I spoke too loosely. Apparently, Congress did make the TIA (Total Information Awareness) program illegal by de-funding it. Of course, the real question is what data you are mining. If they were reading people's mail, that I'm sure would be illegal. If they were reading people's e-mails, I'm not so sure. I seem to recall a case or two where the courts looked rather unkindly on the sanctity of e-mail. If they were cross referencing IRS income tax filing data with auto registration data, I'm not sure either. If they were cross referencing data from the phone book with information from public speeches, I doubt that would be illegal.

I continue to be of the opinion, however, that the program described by the NY Times the other day (at least as far as it was described) was not the source of the objections at the Justice Department.

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